A New Car Show for Kids

Backseat Drivers – a new car show for kids

One of the things I’ve discovered when conducting my research is that a woman’s interest in cars is often the result of an early positive and immersive automotive experience. Young girls who are introduced to cars through an enthusiastic father, brother, or male playmate are more likely to develop a familiarity with and comfort around automobiles than those who do not. Traditionally, young boys are introduced to cars through the acquisition of ‘toys that move’ – planes, trains, trucks, and automobiles – so are exposed to technological playthings at a young age as a matter of course. Cultural prescriptions being what they are, most young girls do not have such an experience. If girls do not have male family members who encourage an interest in cars at a young age, or grow up playing with ‘toys that move’ like their male peers, the chance that they will become automotive enthusiasts is rather unlikely. 

I recently ran across a couple of articles on my automotive feed that discussed a new streaming network program about cars hosted by three children, one of which is female. As one auto journalist noted, ‘the show is directed by real car lovers and the three kids who are hosts are charming and fun and genuinely into cars as well.’ Backseat Drivers covers many aspects of the car hobby, and includes a lot of enjoyable activities that provide a fun introduction to cars. Not only does the show cover a wide range of cars, but the young hosts do fun stuff involving drag races, eating in cars, and a brake test involving piñatas. There are guest appearances by noted auto aficionados, including street racer/drifter Greg Leone and Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky. As the reviewers note, there are episodes involving a Tesla trying to park itself, ‘unashamed adoration of a Grumman LLV mail truck,’ and one segment devoted to microcars. Considering how early a love for cars tends to happen, Backseat Drivers fills an important void not only in programming for children, but automotive programming as well.

Certainly Backseat Drivers was inspired by a concern that young people’s interest in the automobile is waning. But it is encouraging to see that developing car curiosity among young girls is considered part of the solution. While there has been a concentrated effort among educational institutions, automotive manufacturers, and science and engineering organizations to increase STEM participation among girls and young women, Backseat Drivers suggests that it is never too early to foster an interest in cars. With this new fun car show for kids, there is a good chance that girls will get the message.

Oliva, Jacob. “Start ‘Em Young: ‘Backseat Drivers’ Is Like ‘Top Gear’ for Kids.” Motor1.com 16 Apr 2020.

Torchinsky, Jason. “There’s Finally a Car Show for Kids and I’m On It a Bit.” Jalopnik.com 17 Apr 2020 

Memories Car Show

Best in Class @ Memories Car Show

Although I have spent many summers at car shows conducting research, occasionally I take one of my two classic cars [whichever one is running] to a local car show. I tend to like shows that are community-oriented and are in the evening to avoid the hot summer days [and even hotter old engines.] One of my favorites is the Memories Car Show held each August at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton MI. There are usually about 200 cars in attendance of every make, model, and description. Although cars shows remain male-dominated, there were a number of female owned autos on display. This year I decided to take my 1949 Ford to show off its new paint job. Its shiny exterior must have done the trick, because it won best in its class. It was a beautiful evening, and it is always enjoyable to look at the cars and to chat with fellow car enthusiasts.

Are you a woman who shows her car? What do you show and why do you show it? You are welcome to share your experiences in the comments section.

Woodward Dream Cruise

Ford Bronco exhibit at the Woodward Dream Cruise

The big annual car event in the metropolitan Detroit area is the Woodward Dream Cruise. The cruise originated in 1995 as an effort to raise funds for a local children’s soccer field. While the initial expectation was 30,000 spectators, the cruise exceeded expectations, drawing over 250,000 its first year. It has grown exponentially ever since, now drawing over 40,000 cars and 1.5 million visitors.

Although the cruise is technically a one-day event, folks line Woodward Avenue in folding chairs every evening the week prior to view the bumper to bumper parade of cars from the 1950s and 1960s. My husband and I were part of that parade Friday night, but opted to be spectators on Saturday.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is not only a parade of cars, but also a collection of car shows along its 16-mile loop. One of the newest additions was a Ford Bronco show. Folks brought their vintage Broncos from all over the country; some were ‘survivors,’ while others had been modified to the owner’s specifications. The Bronco has become popular with Millennials; it was nice to see younger people involved in the hobby. There were also many female owners in the group. As I have been contemplating a project focused on female Jeep owners, perhaps it would be worthwhile to expand it to women who own any type of off road vehicle, including the Ford Bronco.

Are you a woman with a Jeep or off-road vehicle? Why did you choose this particular type of automobile? You are welcome to share your experiences in the comments section.